Make Gadgets Work

Crossover

Ankit Mittal

There are technologies that I can use in my personal life, that I am proud of and those that I play around with but reality is that as a Senior Project Manager, there aren't very many times when I get the opportunity to influence the choice of software to be used.

As a principle, my personal choices are driven by opensource and professional choices are driven by client needs. However, listed below are opensource technologies that crossed over from my personal to professional realm.

Three open-source technologies that jumped from my hobbyist curiosity to my professional life

PlantUML

What is it?

PlantUML is a great tool to create flow and activity diagrams. It uses plain text to create nice looking flow diagrams which are really quick to prepare. Postioning and all the other stuff is just taken care of by the algorithm.

How do I use it?

As such there is no install required. For Chrome, there is an extension which can be installed or from any browser using PlantText.

I use it directly on the text editor at hand and create the flow I am after while taking notes on the process. It just works.

SpagoBI

What is it?

SpagoBI is a fully working Business Intelligence Suite which just works.

How do I use it?

As part of one of my projects. I had the freedom to pick any MI solution that was cost effective, robust and fit for purpose. SpagoBI ticks all the boxes so I took the opportunity to bring in this opensource solution.

It has very nice GUI and end user experience is great which meant it was an instant hit. It is live and am a user as well.

Talend

What is it?

Talend - does not really need an introduction. It is a well established name and is what techies call ETL - Enterprise Transport Layer.

To explain with an analogy, if different databases were people speaking different languages, then Talend is the translator who can not only explain what other party is speaking but can also perform some important jobs like getting the groceries, throwing garbage and arranging school pickups.

How do I use it?

Again as part of the aforementioned project, Talend is what was used to interact with an obscure offering from intuit called Quickbase as well as with MSSQL and mariaDB (another opensource tech we all love).

The biggest benefit that I derived apart from the regular data integration came from the fact that it is also able to place the dataset directly into a spreadsheet (Excel or LibreCalc).

Now, having all charts and formulae already in place as a template on spreadsheet kind of allows for report creation on a technology that these recipients are already working with and so they don't have to learn any new technology.

Instead of learning and struggling with something new, they are happy to get the information in a format they all accept and are comfortable with and can get on with their day job and make informed decisions based on what the report says. Icing on the cake, the emailing for these spreadsheets, once they were agreed as final versions, is also scheduled so the reports can be delivered in the format end-user likes without any human intervention. What more can a project manager ask. :D